When I first heard this term I had no idea what it was. I had never even heard of it. Also, I had no idea what a water oven was. After A little research I realized that that they were related.
Sous Vide is a way of cooking air tight sealed food. The food is sealed in a plastic bag and cooks for a long time. A 3 day period of cooking is not uncommon. The food cooks at a temperature that is a lot lower than normal. The idea is to have evenly cooked food outside to inside; this helps keep the food juicier. As you may have guessed “Sous Vide” is French for under vacuum.
American and French engineers started using this cooking technique with consistency in the 1960’s as an industrial food preservation method. Sous Vide was discovered by Sir Benjamin Johnson in 1799.
Georges Pralus of Restaurant Troisgros adopted the method in this establishment. He found out that when food was cooked in this way it kept its original appearance, had better texture and didn’t lose a lot of fat. Bruno Goussault of an Alexandria Virginia company Cuisine Solutions also experimented with Sous Vide. He focused on cooking times and temperatures for different foods. At this point in time Sous vide was not a safe alternative to cooking because proper ways of measuring time and temperature were not yet discovered.
When the food is cooked at lower temps the food becomes more succulent. The magic is keeping the food sealed in the air tight bag so the food may cook in its own juices. Basically, the meat does not become tough. Vegetables are normally cooked at high temps, but with sous vide that is not necessary, the long cooking process and even temperature allows the vegetables to be cooked thoroughly but still crispy on the outside. Overcooking does not take place because the food is not hotter than the bath it is in. Regular cooking methods such as roasting or grilling expose foods to higher temperatures and overcooking can take place. Sous vide cooking technique has an exact temperature control of the bath and the bath temperature is the same as the cooking temperature so precise cooking control takes place. This fact allows for irregular cuts of meat and foods are properly cooked throughout.
The airtight food allows cooked food to be stored for longer periods of time. For caterers this is very important.
Cooking with a water oven is not good for browning meats such as steaks. It simply does not achieve that grilled, cooked, crispy texture that people enjoy. You will have to either sear or brown the meat before or after you begin the sous vide process.
Under vacuum cooking techniques is used primarily in high end gourmet restaurants. Now, people are using the sous vide cooking technique at home. People are now able to buy water oven machines or Sous Vide Water Ovens for their home. They normally run around $300.00. These home devices have all the accurate temperature controls necessary to properly cook your food. Some Sous vide enthusiasts made home made style cookers with the use of laboratory equipment.
Cooking times vary with sous vide. Sometimes thin cuts of meat such as fish may cook on minutes and red meat can cook from 2-3 days. Cooking time doesn’t matter to a certain degree because the temperature isn’t such that it will change the food texture rapidly.
Treat yourself, cook sous vide.
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